Essex set for octopus invasion with launch of new public art trail

Mik Richardson with his painted octopus sculpture

Mik Richardson with his painted octopus sculpture - Credit: Courtesy of KAT Marketing

The Essex coast is set to be invaded by stunning sea creatures this summer.  
The Octopus Ahoy! project is a celebration of local art, history and community spirit across Tendring and wider Essex.

Marking 400 years (in 2020) since the historical voyage of the Mayflower ship to the new world, with Harwich’s own Christopher Jones at the helm, and celebrating 150 Years of Clacton on sea, the public art trail and local education programme was originally planned for summer 2020 but will now bring a fresh splash of colour to the Essex coast in time for the 2021 staycation season. 

The Octopus Ahoy! public art trail will feature 100 quirky octopus sculptures, including over 30 large, hand-decorated sculptures decorated by local professional artists and generously sponsored by Essex businesses, including well-known names such as Ellisons Solicitors, Milsoms Hotel Group, Harwich Haven Authority, Pickerings Electrical and more. 

Among the artists involved is Mik Richardson, whose Octopus Ahoy! design will see him hit a century of art trail sculptures across the UK. His artwork has appeared in Wild in Art’s Go Elephants, The Stand Tall for Colchester Zoo, Go Go Gorillas 2013 and many more trails.  

Mik said: ‘Public art trails have really formed a large part of my life over the last decade and they are always great fun to be involved with. It’s a fantastic way to get art in front of people and help people engage with it.

'I enjoy the whole process from designing the artwork that fits the theme of the trail through to seeing them out on the streets. The huge amount these projects raise for charity too just tops off the experience for me.’ 

Conner McGil, Anas Alkhan, Olly the octopus, Ellie-Mae Readman-King, Gabriela Kotrowicz and CJ the Octopus Ahoy! mascot

Conner McGil, Anas Alkhan, Olly the octopus, Ellie-Mae Readman-King, Gabriela Kotrowicz and CJ the Octopus Ahoy! mascot - Credit: Courtesy of KAT Marketing

Like the remaining sculpture’s, Mik’s three designs will adorn the streets of Tendring and Essex between June 25 and September 5. Look out for:

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  • Journey of a Thousand Stars, commemorating the amazing journey of the Mayflower, using just the stars and constellations to navigate by
  • Octopuss in Boots, a fun creation around the famous character Puss in Boots and will showcase scenes from Harwich to America on its base.
  • Sailor Buoy, which gives another nod to the Mayflower crew and will feature comical style marine life imagery

Alongside the professional artists getting involved, more than 60 schools across Essex are decorating their own octopus sculptures. 

Lexden Springs in Colchester was the first school to finish its Octopus Ahoy! sculpture. Olly the Octopus was picked up by Octopus Ahoy! mascot CJ in person and will go on to feature at a high-profile indoor venue in the region when the trail starts on June 25.

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